How diverse are Dynamic Ecology commenters?

This came up in a recent comment thread, and I decided it was interesting enough to post on. What’s the demographic profile of our commenters? How diverse are they, compared to our readership? And do the demographics of people who comment about our posts on Twitter differ from the demographics of the people who comment here? If so, is there any sign that that’s because some groups of people (students? women? people who disagree with our posts?) are more comfortable commenting on Twitter than in our comment threads?

Attention conservation notice: navel-gazing post, probably of greatest interest to other bloggers.

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The unbearable hypocrisy of being an ecologist*

Note from Jeremy: this is a guest post from Mark Vellend.

Over the holiday break, my family logged about 2000 km in our gasoline-powered car, loaded with people, luggage, gifts, and ski equipment.  We do something like that four times per year, visiting family east and west.  “Love miles” people call them, and we feel guilty about the carbon emissions, but it’s far less starting from where we live now in Sherbrooke, Québec, than it would be with air travel from where we used to live in Vancouver, BC. And our second car is 100% electric, in a province with “clean” electricity.  So, in terms of our ecological footprint, it’s bad, but it could be worse.

A couple times per year, I use air travel to go to professional meetings of one sort or another.  For 2-3 others I drive or take buses or trains.  I’m pretty sure the flights alone put me well above my yearly fair share of contributions to atmospheric pollution, but I turn down a decent number of invitations, in part because of consumption guilt, and I travel less than many fellow ecologists.  It’s bad, but it could be worse.

Over the past 20 years, my wife and I have travelled by plane to Costa Rica, Panama, Peru and Bolivia, Tanzania, and Malaysia, among other places, with the primary purpose of experiencing the world’s unique ecosystems, flora, and fauna (birds especially).  But for the most part, we try to keep things local, with frequent trips to natural areas nearby.  It’s bad, but it could be worse.

What does any of this have to do with ecological science?

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Who would you nominate for the Crafoord Prize?

The Crafoord Prize is a Nobel-like award that goes to up to three biologists (with an “emphasis on ecology”), once every three years. It goes to people in other disciplines in other years. In practice, the biology award usually goes to an evolutionary biologist rather than an ecologist; more on that below. Anyway, the Crafoord Prize is one of the most prestigious and lucrative awards in biology; it’s worth over $700,000 USD at current exchange rates.

The next Crafoord Prize will go to a biologist; nominations are due Jan. 15. I got a letter inviting me to submit a nomination (a “perk” of being a blogger, presumably), but anyone is allowed to do so. Who would you nominate?

I’ve thought about it a bit and have a few candidates in mind. But I think it’ll be a more interesting conversation to talk about the thought process, rather than just listing names. Here’s my thought process; please share yours!

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#Readinghour: My plan to read more in 2018

A common theme that comes up when talking with other scientists and academics is that we wish we had more time to read. I’ve been trying to figure out how to do a better job of reading for years, and spent 2015 tracking my reading using #365papers. The goal of that was to read a paper every day – I wasn’t planning on reading work papers on weekends, but I thought there would be enough work days where I read more than one paper that it would offset it. I was wrong. I didn’t get anywhere near 365 (I got to 181), but it still motivated me to read more than I would have – at least, until teaching Intro Bio completely took over.

Having just completed another semester of teaching Intro Bio (and having it take over), I was thinking again about how to reprioritize reading. I decided that I would prefer to have a time goal (30 minutes per day) rather than a paper goal, since I felt like having a paper goal was distorting my reading habits in a way that wasn’t useful.

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Teaching tip: Start lectures with a short video

“Okay. Let’s get started… Okay everyone. It’s time to start. Okay…Alright. Time to start. Okay…..” If you’ve ever taught a large lecture, you may have found yourself standing in front of the room saying things along those lines for the first minute or two of class. It’s really awkward and such an unsatisfying way to start class. So, when I started teaching Intro Bio with Trisha Wittkopp back in 2014, I loved her idea: start class with a short (1-2 min long) video clip that relates to that day’s lecture. (Perhaps it’s not surprising that I loved this idea, given that I maintain a list of videos for teaching ecology.)

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